Leaders in the Black church are calling for a large scale boycott of several Georgia-based corporations in the wake of the state’s controversial voter law.
Religious leaders have set forth four demands for the CEO’s of Coca-Cola, Delta and Home Depot, urging them to complete the actions by Wednesday, April 7, or face a boycott.
“If they commit and if they act (we won’t boycott),” said one of the lawsuit’s plaintiffs, Bishop Reginald Jackson told WSB-TV. “Let me say it again — commit and act. Faith without works is dead.” Jackson presides over the Sixth Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church.
Jackson is leading the charge, along with other faith leaders including Jamaal Bryant and Bernice King, daughter of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The Black church has always served as home base in the civil rights movement, where many of the most impactful leaders were born and raised within. Now they are setting their sights on formative action and change in Georgia.
Jackson and supporters of the boycott held a press conference in front of Coca-Cola’s headquarters on Thursday where they made their demands known.
“We cannot and will not support the companies that do not support us in our struggle to cast our ballots and exercise our freedom,” said Jackson. He shared that he plans to speak further with James Quincey, the CEO of Coca-Cola, next week, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
Last week the Georgia legislature passed SB 202, a bill which at its core, seeks to disenfranchise and suppress the Black vote. It includes, but is not limited to, changes in absentee voting, more restrictions around ID’s and generous allowances for election officials. Republicans who backed the bill argue that the measure will help prevent voter fraud, a baseless claim touted by Trump leading up to and during the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election.
The CEO’s of Delta and Coca-Cola came out in opposition to the legislation, after Ed Bastian, Delta’s CEO, initially made comments that seemed to back the bill.
But there are those who want to implement other forms of action. Voting rights activist Stacey Abrams, who played a monumental role in turning the state from red to blue in the presidential election and two runoff elections in January, feels that there is another course of action that could take place.
In an op-ed for USA Today, Abrams writes that she understands the “impassioned” response to boycott, but instead suggests that it may be more beneficial for Georgians to hear the voices of the corporate leaders who stood on the wrong side of history, which falls in line with the faith leaders’ demands. But Abrams says that corporate leaders could divest from donating large amounts of money to lobby lawmakers and instead fuse that money into underserved communities. Lastly Abrams says that corporate leaders could also take a stand by endorsing two federal bills that seek to dismantle voter suppression, the For the People Act (H.R. 1 and S. 1) and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (H.R. 4).
“We can expect no less from the economic pillars of our communities, Abrams wrote. “So I ask like-minded Americans to hold corporations to their professed values — by measuring their actions and demanding they stand with us.”
The calls to boycott go alongside legal action taken by civil rights groups this week to fight SB 202, which harkens back to segregation and Jim Crow-era legislation.